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Atheist & Agnostics-Hi there!

Giving a shout out to all my fellow atheists and agnostics. Do you have friends who share similar beliefs?

Do you feel pressured by folks who believe differently than you? How did you arrive at your decision, how were you raised?

Do you have any websites to read? Can you give any support/ideas to a new atheist?

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Comments

  • I’m a raw agnostic :) I was actually raised by Athiest parents, but religion was very unusual in the small English town where I grew up. It was rare to actually come across a Christian! Then we moved to the Bible Belt (GA) and what a shock! I remember my first year in middle school, I constantly had to decline invitations to join the Christian group in my school. It always felt so uncomfortable telling people I was Athiest. As the years have gone by, and I’ve questioned my beliefs (and seen some truly amazing things that happen in the world), I settled on being Agnostic. I feel like I can’t rule out the idea of some “unseen force” acting behind the scenes, but I also don’t agree with organized religion, especially the idea that one religion is better than another.

    I figure that as long as I can answer the questions that are important to me, and I can live a happy, fulfilled life without religion, then I’m doing what’s right for me.

  • I teeter between agnostic and athiest. I just don’t feel religion is for me. I guess I was shoved around too much growing up by everyone forcing their religion on me and it’s resulted is a sort of revulsion. First is was Christian/Catholic, then it was Buddhist, now it’s Roman Catholic. I can’t stand the Pope. I guess I also have so many gay friends whose lives have become hell here in Italy cuz of the Pope. It’s all underground here, meaning gay men get married to cover it up, then lead a double life. I find it a disgusting and demoralizing way to treat a natural thing (being gay). I really wish religion peddlers would leave me alone, but they seem intent, so sometimes I’m forced to using harsh manners to drive them off. Now I live in a small town where I lived “in sin” with my husband before marrying him and all social everything is organized by the church. Drives me nuts. Sorry but I have a bone to pick with the Catholic church.

  • Me! I am an atheist! :) I have been an atheist for about 18 years.

    I was raised Reformed (it is like Lutheran or Prosteant) and after taking religion/science courses in college, I went through various “religious/spiritual” phases like wicca, new age, taoism, etc. I saw a lot of hypocrites being raised in a “Christian” environment (ie, lots of relatives claiming they are “Christians” but secreting hating and stereotypes people of different races etc) which I didn’t like one bit. Coincidentally, this was around the time I was becoming vegetarian, getting into environmental issues, etc. :)

    I was always the one asking questions about the “other side” when I involved in our church’s youth group (like I wanted to know about satanism and witchcraft and stuff – not because I wanted to try it or anything but just because when you grow up religous – all that stuff is shielded from you) – of course, they never want you to know about. So, off I went in search for “the truth” and I finally came to my own conclusions about God and religon.

    I definatley do not believe in a Christian type of God (male etc). I believe in evolution and science. Although, at some level, I don’t really dismiss the idea of reincarnation, ghosts, some sort of universal “energy” – so it that last respect I am sort of an atheist. I think that there are things that might be consider “religious” or “spiritual” that can exist without a “God”. If I had to say what I think would qualify as “God”, it would be that all living things on this planet (humans, animals, planets etc) are all connected in some way. Which makes sense they in one way or another we rely on each other and there is the food chain. I guess I have a little bit of Wicca/NewAge/Native American beliefs in me – but mostly the stuff about nature and not “God”.

    Anyhow, not to get too long for first post on this (which is hard to do!). When I first went from Christian to Eastern Religons to Wicca to NewAge to Native American to Agnostic to Atheist, yeah, I got into arguements with my friends at the time debating about the whole religion God thing. My family – I just hid it from them. I think they know that I do not subscribe to what I grew up with – it was just not spoken about.

    My family are pretty much all religious (Christian/Catholic -although not really orthodox about it), my bf is agnostic/atheist – most of my old friends were Christian. I had a few pagan friends at one point but I don’t really have friends based on religion anymore – it is more of a raw foodie /vegan thing. But it really varies what religion they turn out to be. I noticed I get along with Jewish persons or person of other religions rather than the Christian ones.

    Eventually, you will get to the point that you will feel that you don’t need to defend what you believe (or don’t believe) any more. I don’t know – but it seems like once you have been that way for a while – you just don’t talk about it with people. But being new at it and having to deal with friends and family who expect you to go to church or something – it is definatley hard. I don’t feel pressure anymore – I think it is because I feel so much more comfortable in what I believe now than I did before. Every once and a great while, I will read something or something will happen to make me rethink what I now believe – it is a momentary thing and passes – but I think that happens to everyone – religious or not – atheist or not – you question what your are doing and “Did I make the right decision”?

    I guess for me it comes down to this – I don’t “feel” that their is any “God” out there. I think it is psychological (I have a psych degree so that is why I came to that conclusion) and I think that if you wanted too you could make yourself believe that the chair you are sitting in is “God” – I mean, look at the the cults in the world – Some of these people believe in some strange stuff. The lure of these things are psychological and wanting to belong.

    One of the things too that helped me reach my “I am an atheist” decision was that no matter how much research and reading I did – there was no one who could say “Yeah, we can DEFINATELY prove their is a GOD”. So, that was one of the main deciding factors for me – I can’t waste my life believing in something that more than likely doesn’t exist. It is document in history books that man invented God to explain the things he doesn not understand. Animals don’t go to church do they? So, I will not either.

    There are some good websites if you are looking for answers to defend your beliefs. I used to keep a log of them but sicne I don’t argue with people about what I believe anymore I lost track.

    But here are a few – I don’t know if you have read them:

    http://www.atheists.org/faqs/faqs.html http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Atheism http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutatheism/p/athe…

    I used to have this really good one about what answers to give the Christians who try to debunk your beliefs but I can’t find it. I try to find it later and post for you.

    Another idea for you it is join an Atheists Meetup group.

    I am glad you started this thread – We have a Raw Christians thread but nothing for us “sinners” (ha ha! that is what the Christians used to call the atheists in my church when was little!) :)

  • I respect the whole concept of Freedom of Religion (or choosing not to have a religion). I do.
    But I believe in Spirituality over Religion.
    In my personal experience it seems like Religion can tend to dichotomize people whereas Spirituality brings people together.
    I have found great spiritual inspiration from the tenets of many different ‘religions’—Buddhism, Taoism, Wicca, and most Pagan or Nature-based religions. And have a particular fondness for the Polytheistic paths that the Ancient Egyptians & Greeks have followed.
    But I have given up telling anyone that I “belong” to a particular religion—Because I don’t.
    And because it seems too limiting to me.

    PS: To Carmentina – I can empathize.. I grew up in a Catholic household and it was scary. I have on occasion told (those who asked) that I am a “Recovering Catholic”. (ie – the opposite of a born-again)

    PSS: I also do not personally believe in the concept of “sin”
    And the Spiritualist in me knows that I do not need a middleman to communicate to higher spirits, Gods, or Goddesses.
    Nature is the best church in the Universe.

    PSSS: I hope it’s OK to be chiming in on this discussion – because I’m not actually an Atheist, but sometimes I do feel like an Agnostic. Still – I like to keep an open mind.

  • Amen to greenghost! Nature is the best church in the Universe!

  • Queenfluff – What a fascinating way to think about it! Animals don’t go to church, so neither do you.

    I love that! Nature is the best church in the Universe

    In my humble opinion, religion was created for folks to have eternal life. That means, religion exists because people fear death. Instead, I have chosen to accept death, change, and I feel that it’s the harder path. It’s much easier to believe that there is a higher power helping you, and that you will live on forever! Unfortunately, that’s just not the case.

    Carmentina – I sympathize with you living in a very rigidly religious town! I’ve never been to Italy, but I have lived in Georgia like heyenglish – there are churches on every corner, and folks interject religious speech into their conversations.

  • Actually my Mom had a really interesting approach to religion. After her Catholic mother died (in front of us in a car accident), she started feeling like Catholicism was just not right anymore and she started trying all kinds of religions. I was taken along to all sorts of churches and seminars. In the end she chose Buddhism and has stuck with it now for nearly 30 years. She needs it. In her case it was her seeking religion and trying out what the world has to offer.

    I admit that when I’m scared I chant Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo. Yes fear is a factor. I like the idea of reincarnation and believe in karma. For me it’s more a question of low grade spirituality. I would rather pray to the sun or a tree or Mother Earth. I don’t like human invented ideas. Religion is too often used to divide people instead of bring us together.

  • I have a Christian friend, and now that her mother has just discovered text messaging, she sends her daughter scripture texts. I just find it completely ridiculous.

    And Winona, I agree with you that religion was created for people that fear death and change. It seems like people are truly too scared to find real happiness, so instead of putting in the hard work and actually figuring out what makes them happy, they just chalk everything up to religion. “Oh, I have (this faith) in my life and this is the path that’s been chosen for me.” It also stops people from claiming responsibility in their lives. I’ve known so many people that constantly pass the buck or just avoid being responsible for an action they did, and worst of all, other religious people back up using religion as an excuse!

    I don’t think the lack of responsibility is just due to religion, but it certainly plays a big roll in it. Just like we aren’t taught to question things anymore, or think actively about everything around us. And heaven-forbid we actually sit down and concentrate on just one thing, rather than “multi-task”.

    :Stands down from soapbox:

  • Some very interesting ideas being shared in this thread…

    I, too, am a “recovering catholic”- I went to Catholic school for eight years. I left after my principal essentially accused my mother of being an abortionist because she didn’t support the Bush campaign.. .loooong story… but I spent many a theology class trying to ask “WHY?” and being told that good Catholics don’t ask questions. My mother is a “cafeteria Catholic”; she picks and chooses what she agrees with and disagrees with, but she does attend Mass every week. My father is pretty non-demoninational but spiritual. I remember once I asked him why he didn’t go to church with us, and he said, “I don’t have to go to a church to feel the presence of God.” Smart guy.

    Anyway, I would probably classify myself as a spiritual person. I believe very strongly in karma, more specifically that the energy you put into the world will come back to you… like, “the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

    I agree that religion often leads people to hatred and fear rather than love and peace, but I respect people who do choose to follow a specific religion. I know for my mother, church brings her much comfort and happiness, and I’m not going to knock that.

    To end this longgggg post, I recommend all atheists/agnostics/questioners read Christopher Hitchens’ “god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”. Its a very interesting read on how religion affects much of human life and why its not necessary and often more evil than good in the wrong hands.

    Peace!

  • Fascinating thoughts, rawperasinger. I enjoy it when religious folks exercise critical thinking. I grew up in a very close minded religion, and most of the religious people that i knew spent a lot of time separating themselves from the godless folk – my family included. It was rather sickening. Not to mention the racism, lies, anti abortion, anti gay rights, anti relationships, close minded thinking that came along with this. So a lot of my reaction to it is to stay as far away as possible. This was only the experience I had, I’m certain that religious folks can be positive good people – but it just so happened that I was not surrounded by it.

    I do appreciate hearing that religion can be useful for some people, to give them hope. But it’s best when the beliefs don’t cloud common sense, judgement, scientific reasoning, crticial thinking.

    Thanks for the Hitchens book recommendation.

    heyenglish – the lack of responsibility for one’s own life is a terrible symptom of the age we live in. Young adults act like children, children act like brats. Poverty is abundant, yet no one tries to change it. People are sick – can’t be bothered with taking care of themselves. Folks just go through this educational system to become mass produced drones. And they don’t BOTHER helping those less fortunate, changing the corrupt political system, voting, TALKING to their neighbor. Nope. Cause the tv is on. So, forget actually DOING anything.

  • You know what’s interesting? I believe in God, the Bible, and the way Jesus lived according to that, but so far I’ve had no interest in “chiming” in on the christian thread, not YET at least. In fact, some of my friends and I recently discussed at length how we don’t even like to call ourselves ‘christian’ anymore because of the very very valid points that all of you have brought up. : ) It is sooo sad that people (including family members and members of the ‘clergy’) have behaved so badly. I can’t prove there isn’t a God. (I have a psych degree too, queefluff, and its definately not from a christian university). I know that in my life and those around me there have been too many ‘coincidences’, ‘timings’, miracles (i know, i know, that word).... so i choose to believe. God makes me happy and as an intelligent woman who loves ALL people, the planet and all life in it, and after looking at alternatives in the origins of the universe (i took philosophy courses with strong and smart athiest professors), etc., i chose to believe and follow the teachings of Jesus – who is not like all those people we’ve all experienced, because it came down to a matter of ‘faith’ for believing something/nothing. not out of fear. hope you all don’t mind me adding my thoughts – i consider you all friends. love and peace

  • Mamamilk, your post sounds like something my mother would have written. I have had many awful experiences around religious people, but I have many intelligent and loving people in my life who choose to follow an organized religion. Of course your thoughts are welcome, thank you for sharing.

  • I am a spiritual person, although I was raised as Roman Catholic I was never attracted to it, can’t stand the hypocrisy of the establishment and their bloody past. My only God now is spelled N a t u r e.

  • I choose not to belong to any organized religion. Although I do not reject it. To me, religion is a good thing but also a very bad thing. Religion is one of the reasons why this world is in such bad shape today, but it also keeps people grounded, and can give us peace of mind. Lots of religions teach us to love and hate all at the same time which can be confusing and frustrating.

    I do however believe in God. God is love. That good feeling you get inside when you are with someone you care deeply about, or even when you do something you really love. It is not just an emotion you are feeling…You are feeling God. This is why Love is the most powerful and natural feeling anyone can experience. You don’t need a religion to love. You are born with it. Love gives off a very strong energy, so if we all can just learn to connect to, embrace, and share love with all humans, animals, and plants, we can restore this planet to the way it was meant to be, before there was a such thing as religion.

  • “You don’t need a religion to love. You are born with it. Love gives off a very strong energy, so if we all can just learn to connect to, embrace, and share love with all humans, animals, and plants, we can restore this planet to the way it was meant to be, before there was a such thing as religion.”

    So, so true, azulblue. I think at the heart of all religions is love; its all the other STUFF that gets in the way. If people remembered this, there would be no religious crusades, no hatred of those who believe differently, because at the heart of it, its all the same. But you don’t need religion to believe in that love, as you said.

    Very inspiring words, azulblue.

  • I choose not to belong to any organized religion. Although I do not reject it. To me, religion is a good thing but also a very bad thing. Religion is one of the reasons why this world is in such bad shape today, but it also keeps people grounded, and can give us peace of mind. Lots of religions teach us to love and hate all at the same time which can be confusing and frustrating

    ME TOO! Organized religion is not true Christianity. There is a huge difference between the two. I do not belong to organized religion. Organized religion, is ‘church’. The bible says that we (as Christians now) are the church. He is the head but his people are the church. Not going to a church like commonly believed. People make an image of God, and they follow that image. This is organized religion. Then they have to defend the image that they made of God.

    Really, the God that you make, is the God that you must defend. The God that made YOU, needs no defense. That is why I will not defend God. But, I would challenge you to watch that video and ask him, ask Jesus, to intervene, ask him to make a difference. He will IF he is real.

    Yes, azulblue, but if you want the truth about God, you have to read the bible. You have to watch that video. Saying what we think God is, does not help.

  • shgadwa,

    I would argue that the Bible is a product of organized religion. It is the Christian book of choice, edited by various people over time to include/reject various books. You find your truth in that book. A Muslim finds hers in the Quran, a Jew in the Torah, a Taoist in the Tao Te Ching. To tell azulblue that she must read the Bible and, of all things, watch a youtube video to find the truth I find almost offensive. The truth (or God, or Goddess, or whatever you are seeking) can be found in many places. As someone who purports to not follow an organized religion, I would think you would agree with this and leave others to find their truth. After all, there are many paths up the mountain; the only one who will not make it to the top is the one running around it telling others they are wrong.

    I don’t mean to attack you, shgadwa, and I hope you don’t read this as such. However, I don’t think anyone “has to” do anything to find truth, peace and happiness.

  • Oh no…

    I appreciate it. Really, I do.

    Just, please tell me how the bible could be a product of organized religion. It explains everything very well. Countless prophesies have came to pass. It agrees with itself. If you want to understand a passage, you use the bible as its own dictionary, if you understand that.

    So, please tell me where the bible is wrong and/ or how it is a product of organized religion.

    This is interesting… I am listening.

  • Thanks for the thoughts Rawperasinger, I’m not catholic and dont consider myself ‘religious’ I’m just a follower of Jesus who believes in walking in love. (i’m still working on my new title since ‘christian’ doesn’t quite fit – it’s a manmade title and not a biblical term.) i think the traditional church (though i attend a variety of groups who believe in God/Jesus) would consider me a heretic, but then again, Jesus was accused of heresy and working for satan, so there ya go…. btw, rawperasinger – am i wrong or do you sing? : )

    Winona, don’t you love that you’ve begun such a provocative discussion? ; )

    Winona you said:

    the lack of responsibility for one’s own life is a terrible symptom of the age we live in. Young adults act like children, children act like brats. Poverty is abundant, yet no one tries to change it. People are sick – can’t be bothered with taking care of themselves. Folks just go through this educational system to become mass produced drones. And they don’t BOTHER helping those less fortunate, changing the corrupt political system, voting, TALKING to their neighbor. Nope. Cause the tv is on. So, forget actually DOING anything.

    I agree completely, winona! I choose to live my life by what I can do TODAY. We homeschool and try to walk in love, grace and mercy in this world. We don’t watch t.v. either. ; ). I believe in joy, hard work, personal responsibility, helping others and no fear for tomorrow.

    Isn’t freedom, free will and free speech wonderful? and questions are a good thing!

  • As a non-Christian, I see the Bible as a book. To me, it is no different from any other book, because I do not believe it was divinely inspired. It is full of stories, few (if any) of which I believe are 100% historically accurate. The stories give people guidelines by which to live thier lives. Some of the stories are very beautiful. I do not think the Bible is “wrong”, but it does not lead me to my truth. I see all other religious texts the same way.

    All religious texts are the product of organized religion. They are written by people who follow that religion to share stories and advice with people who also follow that religion. They claim to write those books with the divine inspiration of God, so its a religious book, thus, of and for organized religion.

    For you, it is the truth. Everything in it is true. Someone reading THIER religious text would say the same thing, but would probably disagree with things in your book, and you’d probably disagree with things in theirs.

    I am not sure if I answered your question, and I think that’s because I’m a little baffled as to how the Bible is NOT a product of religion as a religious text. Perhaps if you explain why you don’t think it is a product of relgion, I can better explain why I do.

  • Thanks for your wording rawperasinger.
    And no disrespect meant to shgadwa, but this is why I think that Religion dichotomizes people. Spirituality brings people together.
    I personally don’t need a book or a pastor to feel a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of nature, a sense of wonder and awe about all of life – everything is the embodiment of spirit.

  • mamamilk- I do, in fact, sing. I have no idea where you’d get such an idea… :)

    and greenghost, I thought this was a really lovely thought: “I personally don’t need a book or a pastor to feel a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of nature, a sense of wonder and awe about all of life – everything is the embodiment of spirit.”

    God, Goddess, Allah, Yahweh, love, spirit, whatever you want to call it- its all over the place, you just have to be open to it. Its a beautiful world.

  • To add on to what rawperasinger was saying at the Bible being a product of religion – I totally agree. My coworker is Christian, but he gets so frustrated in his Bible classes because people in the class take the book literally. They take stories with figurative meanings, and say they are the literal truth. I can understand living by certain principles in your life, especially things like honesty, love, faith, etc. However, reading a book and following it word for word can be dangerous. The Bible is over a thousand years old, and things that probably applied to daily life back then don’t apply now. The main principles still apply, yes, but the details don’t necessarily apply.

    For instance, back in the day, sex was an act of procreation. But now, it has totally evolved into part of everyday life. It’s for procreation, but also recreation, advertising, entertainment… A lot of Christian parents won’t talk realistically to their kids about sex, especially pre-marital sex because it’s “wrong”, so we have generations of people growing up that think sex is this evil, bad thing. I don’t believe sex should be taken lightly, but it’s so natural and beautiful and funny and inspiring, and well, sexy. It’s much safer to bring kids up, talking to them about all the risks of having sex and how to practice safe sex than just avoiding the issue and calling it a sin. Let them make an educated decision about how they want to use their bodies; don’t tell them what they should be doing.

  • i’m an atheist. thought i’d interject.

  • you do come off as preachy. (i don’t want to get into a debate here, i mean no antagonism as i’m not concerned with your beliefs in the least…just thought you should know?)

  • heh heh rawperasinger. thats cool.

    heyenglish, you are correct about bible studies – they are usually products of a persons prism and their worldview. now about sex, yes, sex is good and there happens to be a very sexy read in the bible called the song of solomon. and its all about the enjoyment of love and sex between solomon and his favorite girl. we won’t be skipping that book when we read the bible to our kids. ; )

  • Maybe so but when people have their opinions of the bible, I tell them what the bible says…........about the bible, or something like that.

    I think I think.

    So, sometimes I feel something just needs to be said.

    Yes, song of Solomon is good.

  • also, to the founder of this thread, richard dawkins’ “the god delusion” is a good read, as is “why darwin matters” by michael shermer. look for a chapter of a humanist association in your area?

  • The entire book of Leviticus (correct me if I’m wrong) is rules rules rules on how to live your life, including the famed anti-homosexuality clause. I find it hard to believe that you follow all the rules set forth in the entire Bible. I remember some of them being terribly out of date, about not touching women on thier periods and only wearing one type of cloth at a time. So, if you don’t follow these rules though they hardly apply to modern times, are you sinning?

    “Tell me why you have fear while doing it then if it is not a sin? Same as masturbation…. people feel terribly guilty afterwards.”

    Teens who grow up in restrictive households fear sex and masturbation because they fear punishment. If you don’t believe that its wrong and deserves punishment, then you don’t fear it. I certainly don’t fear sex or masturbation, and view them as natural and healthy.

    I find this quote very interesting, although I do not know who said it.

    “Now, Through the Looking Glass, that poem “The walrus and the carpenter”, that’s an indictment of organised religion; the walrus with his girth and good nature, obviously represents either Buddha, or, with his tusks, the Hindu elephant god, Lord Ganesha—that takes care of your eastern religions. Now, the carpenter, which is an obvious reference to Jesus Christ, who was raised a carpenter’s son, he represents the western religions. Now, in the poem what do they do? What do they do? They dupe all these oysters into following them, and then proceed to shuck and devour the helpless creatures en massé. Now, I don’t know what that says to you, but, to me it says, that following these faiths based on mythological figures ensures the destruction of one’s inner being. Organised religion destroys who we are by inhibiting our actions, by inhibiting our decisions, out of fear of some intangible parent figure, who shakes a finger at us from thousands of years ago and says “Do it, do it and I’ll f*ing spank you!”“

    Fear of heavenly retribution causes guilt, which makes religion more about guilt and unhappiness than peace and love for many people.

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